Eternal Horse (2015)

Following their first release on Darla, Eternal Horse is the ninth album ofthe Icelandic ambient rock band Stafrænn Hákon.
On Eternal Horse, Stafrænn Hákon move away from the DIY experimentald rony ambient and the lo-fi indie-rock sounds of their last albums, Prammi and Kælir Varðhund, and revisit the sound-spectrum of their previous Darla album, Sanitas (2010).

Eternal Horse contains nine pop-oriented and vocally driven melodies. The album builds on certain elements heard on Gummi (2007) and Sanitas (2010), filled with soft and floating guitars mixed with heavier guitar sounds, layers of acoustic instruments and vocals. Vocals and lyrics on the album are in the hands of Magnús Freyr Gíslason and At The Close Of Everyday frontman, Minco Eggersman, who again collaborates with the band, providing his deep and soothing vocals to three songs on the album.

As heard on the opening track Bræla, Stafrænn Hákon combines heavy sonic pallette of guitars mixed with airy melodic vocals. On Frigid/Bag a familiar tone is presented, heard on his highly acclaimed album from Ventill/Poki (2004). The journey continues with poppier elements and almost doomy sounds of the composition “Rene Russo”.
The band´s current line up consists of guitarists Ólafur Josephsson
and Lárus Siguðsson, bass guitarist Árni Þór Árnason, drummer Róbert Már Runólfsson and singer Magnús Freyr Gíslason. Eternal Horse is the first Stafrænn Hákon album featuring the whole band collaborating on the songs in their studio, making the compositions more organic and fuller. Longtime and now previous member of the band, Samuel White contributes two songs.

Recorded at Vogor Studios between 2011-2015. All songs by Stafrænn Hákon. Mixed by Daniel Lovegrove. Mastered by Finnur Hákonarson. Produced by Ólafur Josephsson and Daniel Lovegrove. Artwork by Árni Þór Árnason. Released November 20, 2015

Stafrænn Hákon:

Árni Þór Árnason: Bass guitar
Lárus Sigurðsson: Electric Guitar, Acoustic instruments..
Magnús Freyr Gíslason: Vocals on Bræla, Kaos, Sót and Rene Russo. backup vocals on Burning at both ends, I´m the beholder and Light.
Ólafur Josephsson: Electric Guitars, Acoustic Guitar, Pianos, Organ, programming, percussion
Róbert Runólfsson: Drums

With..
Samuel White: Electric Guitar on Light and Falkor
Minco Eggersman: Vocals on Burning at both ends, I´m the beholder and Light

Additional Musicians:

Frank Aarnink: Vibraphone
Nói Steinn Einarsson: Drums on Falkor
Tumi Árnason: saxaphone
Þórður Hermannsson: Cello
Þröstur Sigurðsson: Trombone
Fredrik Robertsson Boulter: Additional piano on Burning at both ends

Artwork by Árni Þór Árnason
Copyright Stafrænn Hákon 2015

LYRICS:

-BRÆLA-
Rólega, hafið tekur á móti mér
Varlega, bátnum ýtir á undan sér
Hljóðlega, flytur mig fjarri þér
Bráðlega, steypist ég niður á botn

Breiði yfir mig lakið og tel
Þá hrynur yfir mig þakið
Hóf að finna mér leið
Vona að leiðin sé greið
Ég kveð, dýfi mér inn í brakið

-KAOS-
With frozen eyes, on the mirror
She’s hypnotized
If summer skies, could be clearer
then so can wifes

She’s a star, Made by others
She’s a star, Ruled by others

 

-BURNING AT BOTH ENDS-
i try to live a lie; i light up, light up to burn it down
i try to live a lie; i am warm, so warm i will close you in
i try to live a lie; see me burn, i’m burning at both ends
i try to live a lie; i’m the fire to fuel the strife
beyond my desire, the rarest moment of grace
hits me like thunder, and fills up this place
beyond my desire, you water down this phase
i look up from my life, you leave without a trace
i try to live a lie; i’m in need, in need of deliverance
i try to live a lie; i’m messed up, i’m messed up, this is my life
i try to live a lie; see me burn, i’m burning at both ends
i try to live a lie; i’m the fire to fuel the strife
beyond my desire, the rarest moment of grace
hits me like thunder, and fills up this place
beyond my desire, you water down this phase
i look up from my life, you leave without a trace
kill this burning sensation for fire
fill my life with the love i admire

-SÓT-
Ferðamenn, lenda senn
iljarnar, kolsvartar
Dimmblá nótt
Öldurót, ferðasót
falin glóð, yfir kalda slóð
Hún gufar upp og hverfur
Teygjum okkur nær
Flýtum okkur hægt
Og tökumst á að nýju
Langt utan seilingar
Nær þó en stjörnurnar
Handan við sjónarrönd
Rekur á hvíta strönd
Hún gufar upp
Teygjum okkur nær
Flýtum okkur hægt
Og tökumst á að nýju
Teygjum okkur nær

-RENE RUSSO-
I´ll take another one, any day
All the other ones, they can stay
What does it mean to you… everything?
I´ll take another one, any day
I´ll take another one, throw him in a cage
except my only son, and put myself to sleep
What does it mean to you… anything?
I´ll take another one, any day

-I´M THE BEHOLDER-
i am sitting nearby this lake, it’s empty
it’s been long since water grew the dark trees
the clouds close in on me, you see…it’s getting colder
my eyes are wasted away with grief, i’m the beholder
i’m the beholder
gone today, who knows who will see tomorrow
let me fall into eternity
gone today, who knows who will see tomorrow
let me fall into eternity
forever and a day
forever and a day
will my name get ink, will i be marked?
will i gain the world and lose my soul?
gone today, who knows who will see tomorrow
let me fall into eternity
gone today, who knows who will see tomorrow
let me fall into eternity
forever and a day


-LIGHT-
shining in the dark, like a falling star
element of life stirred by silent wind
breathing through the night, coming from afar
soon to pass me by, going down on me
shining in the dark, like a falling star
element of life stirred by silent wind
breathing through the night, coming from afar
soon to pass me by, going down on me
safe me safe, show me light

REVIEWS:

NORMAN RECORDS

Having repped the Icelandic post-rock contingent for many years as that lesser known, kinda-ambient band, Stafraenn Hakon are now treating their ascendent music with a heavy dose of pop. ‘Eternal Horse’ has the serene, Autumnal sound of fellow countryfolk of Monsters and Men, produced with clean, widescreen precision that asks you to feel around for the setting. Implementing vocals to the fore more than ever — while also utilising the distraught emotive guitar riffs of X&Y era Coldplay in their instrumentals — this record is overt and okay with it.

This is probably the most pleasant post-rock album you’re gonna hear all year, and how nauseating, right? “Frigid Bag” has drums that shuffle like toes being dipped plaintively into serene water, while “Burning at Both Ends” uses math rock atmospherics through its squeaking fret play, but keeps a straightforward, marching beat and beautified guitar picking. It sounds kinda like if Toe were making a Snow Patrol album, with the intricacies shut out underneath a sighed vocal hook; “Sot”, meanwhile, traces a slowly unwinding guitar motif with the piano to match, making for a properly upset, very obvious ballad. This is gorgeous stuff, wavering between pantomimic and meditative, but sometimes I wish things would get gnarly, too.
7/10

MIXOLYDIANBLOG

In my time as a music journalist I have had the good fortune of coming into contact with some amazing music from Iceland. One more that I get to add to this growing collection is Stafrænn Hákon. Stafrænn Hákon is the stage name of musician Ólafur Josephsson whose most recent releaseEternal Horse caught my attention.

Stafrænn Hákon’s music is described as “Alternative, Rock, Electronica, Ambient, Power-Ambient,” and nowhere is this more apparent than on Eternal Horse. Consisting of musicians Ólafur Josephsson (guitar), Árni Árnason (bass), Lárus Sigurðsson (guitar),
Róbert Már Runólfsson (drums), and Magnús Freyr (vocals & guitar); this record is the perfect definition of balance.

Eternal Horse has so much going on at once in terms of sound, but it never overwhelms you. You don’t feel the blended styles trying to one-up each other, but rather working as a cohesive unit. From instrumental explorations to vocal compositions, Stafrænn Hákon presents an album that is just enough mainstream and just enough experimental to draw both schools of thought together.

The music on Eternal Horse can energize you, take you away to another world, calm your spirit, and make you think all at once. When I think of what an alternative rock band should sound like, Stafrænn Hákon presents all of the qualities I look for. Listening to Eternal Horse is a must for any alt rock fan.

Honestly it is a must for any music fan.

 

ROK

Bring on your tölty horse

“Eternal Horse” is the 9th album by the band Stafrænn Hákon. The current line up: guitarists Ólafur Josephsson and Lárus Siguðsson, bass guitarist Árni Þór Árnason, drummer Róbert Már Runólfsson and singer Magnús Freyr Gíslason. Longtime and now previous member of the band, Samuel White contributes on two songs. The longplayer is produced by Ólafur Josephsson and Daniel Lovegrove.
“Eternal Horse” is the second one on the American Darla Records label, 5 years after “Sanitas” (2010). The band moves away from the DIY experimental, lo-fi indierock you probably know from “Prammi” and “Kælir Varðhund”. “Eternal Horse” contains very vocally driven melodies, but there is still a guitar skeleton. Vocals and lyrics on the album are provided by Magnús Freyr Gíslason and ‘At The Close Of Everyday’ frontman Minco Eggersman, who provides vocals to three songs (“Burning at both ends”, “I’m the beholder” and “Light”). The album builds on certain elements as heard on “Gummi” (2007) and “Sanitas” (2010) and has a poppy and floating feel.

The opening track “Bræla”, is a perfect combo of gliding, groovy guitars and vulnerable vocals by Magnús. Vocal-less song 2 “Frigid/Bag” reminds of the sound of more than a decade ago (“Ventill/Poki”, 2004). Track III is “Kaos”: ‘When the present determines the future, but the approximate present does not approximately determine the future’ (Edward Lorenz). “Burning at both ends” is driven by Minco’s mature and magisterial voice. Song V “Sót” has an angelic character. The 6th song ,“Falkor”, is minatory, as a warning sign for an imminent danger. “Rene Russo” has a doomy thrill as well, leaving a dark chocolate taste on your palate. Nr 8 “I’m the beholder” is a short song (< 3 min) and nr 9 puts you in the twi“Light”.

Stafrænn Hákon’s ninth album is a healthy and heavenly horse, ideal for a late evening ride in tölt modus through the Hafnarfjörður area. Not exactly a Hercules or Quicksilver, but “Eternal Horse” is a horse to bet on, A Horse With A Name!

– Wim Van Hooste